The European Commission has published a Code of EU Online Rights which is a compilation of the basic set of rights that consumers have when using online services or when buying goods and services online within the EU.

The rationale behind the creation of this Code was that rights and principles are currently scattered across numerous Directives, Regulations and Conventions, making it a difficult and complex task for consumers and service providers to identify them.

The Code is not enforceable but the rights and principles set out in it are enforceable under the relevant legal instrument.

The Code is made up of three parts:

  • Section I on the rights and principles applicable when online services are accessed and used. Specifically, it covers access to electronic communications networks and services, access to services and applications, non-discrimination when accessing online services and privacy, protection of personal data and security; 
  • Section II on the rights and principles applicable when goods or services are bought online. Specifically it covers information prior to the conclusion of a contract online, timely, clear and complete contractual information, fair contract terms and conditions, protection against unfair practices, delivery of goods and services without defects and in due time and withdrawal from a contract; and
  • Section III on the rights and principles applicable in cases of conflict. Specifically this Section covers details on access to justice and dispute resolution.

This Code is a useful aid for both consumers and service providers alike to their rights and responsibilities in this area.